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Australian National Academy of Music

  • Project: Health and Wellbeing Project
  • Amount: $94,500 over 3 years
  • Year(s) Funded: 2012

ANAM fine tunes an Australian first in music education.

Musicians’ mental and physical health has been largely ignored in training and professional performance music sectors, where a culture of silence and ‘turning a blind eye’ to injury and mental health issues has prevailed. The Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM), Australia’s national centre for the development of exceptional young musicians, has launched an innovative Health and Wellbeing Program designed to change the culture of the music sector. ANAM is the only institute of its kind in Australia, and one of the few in the world.

Health and well-being is integrated into all the teaching and training and ANAM

“In hindsight, all my episodes of injury would have been preventable if I’d known then what know now. My absolute dream is that in a generation or two, sound bio-mechanical principles are part of everyday musical activity.” Howard Penny, Cellist and Member of the Resident Faculty, ANAM.

Following intensive sessions with a range of highly regarded professional practitioners, the Academy’s 68 students have gained a greater understanding of the physical and emotional demands of their craft, how to produce sound at their top potential while lessening injuries, and how to better manage their health and performance anxiety.

“We’re extremely proud to be partnering with the Trust to develop and deliver Australia’s first Health and Wellbeing Program for musicians. It has already brought about positive change in its launch year,” Mr Dean says.

Formal feedback has ranged from “this has changed the way I play my instrument” to “you can’t learn this anywhere else”, according to ANAM’s Business Manager, Charlotte Cassidy.

ABC Radio National featured ANAM’s Health and Wellbeing Program on Bodysphere. Listen to the audio or read the transcript here:

Project aims

The program:

  • Is instrument-specific for each student
  • Deals with the preparation and ongoing care of the musician’s mind and body
  • Educates students about injury prevention
  • Advises on various tools to deal with pain, injury and performance anxiety (to date most commonly managed by drugs).

Content includes practices such as Pilates, yoga, meditation, Feldenkrais and the Alexander Technique. Other sessions involve a specialist classical music physiotherapist, discussion around the issues of beta-blockers and performance anxiety, and two psychologists on maximising performance potential and managing anxiety.

ANAM plans to share its program with other institutions and the professional performance sector, and may generate revenue through the sale of IP and delivery mechanisms.